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Myths About BabyWalkers

For Further information:
Physiotherapy Department
Gilbert Bain Hospital
South Road
Tel: 01595 743323
If you need this leaflet in Braille or other
languages please contact:
Corporate Services Department
Brevik House
South Road
Tel: 01595 743064
Shetland NHS Board
Myths & Truths
Baby Walkers
Do they really help?
Are they really safe?
Shetland Children’s Physiotherapy Service
Date Produced: July 2012
Review Date: July 2014
Why have we made this leaflet?
Each year in Shetland, the physiotherapy service receives
numerous referrals for muscle, bone and joint problems that can be
directly linked to the use of a baby walker. They can be
harmful to a child’s safety and development - to such an extent that
in April 2007, Canada banned the sale of baby walkers
completely. There have also been calls for this to happen in UK
however, as yet this has not been done.
Siegel, A. And Burton, R (1999) Effects of Baby Walkers on
Motor and Mental Development in Human Infants Journal of
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Garrett, M., McElroy, A. And Staines, A (2002) Locomotor
milestones and babywalkers: Cross sectional study British
Medical Journal
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Campaign 2005
Child Accident Prevention Trust – Baby walkers factsheet
Bayley Assessment — http://www.pearsonassessments.com/
The rest of this leaflet is designed to reveal the truths behind the
myths and to allow you to make an informed decision as to
whether to use a baby walker or not.
Given enough encouragement and time to develop the muscle
strength and balance, all babies will walk when they are ready to
(usually between 9-18 months). Time in a baby walker takes
away time from activities that produce the real readiness for
Myth 1 - A baby walker is a safe place to put my
baby for a few minutes
Encourage Tummy Time as much as possible – we advise that
baby’s should sleep on their backs and play on their fronts.
Tummy time is the basic building block for all motor skills and a
lack of this can have a huge knock on effect.
Putting a baby in a baby walker is like giving a teenager a Ferrari
– a dangerous risk.
If you have laminate flooring, then put a large rug or non-slip mat
on the floor so that your baby has some grip when they learn to
crawl and walk.
Consider getting a stable push-type baby walker when they can
stand on their own. If you have laminate floors, it is a good idea
to put baby shoes on or keep them in bare feet so they have
better grip. Some examples of these are:
The Truth:
A child in a baby walker needs much greater attention and
supervision than if they weren’t in one.
Statistics show that over 40% of children who use a baby
walker end up getting hurt (Estimated 4,000 injuries per year in
the UK).
They allow babies to move very quickly and raise them to a
height where they can reach for hazardous items such as knives
or hot drinks.
A Welsh burns unit revealed that 25% of babies aged 6-12
months in hospital with burns and scalds had been in a baby
If you do decide to use a baby walker:
Please limit use to 10 minutes a day
Ensure that your baby is very closely supervised at all times
Ensure that the walker is low enough that your baby can place
both feet completely flat on the floor. If only their toes can
touch the floor, please don’t use it until your baby grows a bit
Myth 2 - Using a baby walker will help my baby to
learn to walk
The Truth:
A paper in the British Medical journal showed that baby walker use
was not associated with achieving sitting or standing, and there
are strong links between the amount of baby walker use and the
extent of developmental delay
If you added up the time your baby is in its walker, each time it
adds up to 24 hours, your baby is likely to be another 3 days
later learning to walk and nearly 4 days later learning to
The brain works in a criss-cross pattern with the left brain
controlling the right arm and leg and the right brain controlling the
left arm and leg.
Crawling is an essential activity in encouraging this criss-cross
pattern in the brain to develop.
In a walker, babies loose opportunities to learn important
motor and perceptual skills such as distance and depth, and
key concepts such as in/out and on/under.
Myth 4 - Using a baby walker will strengthen my
baby’s legs
Because the walker holds them upright, the child does not learn
the proper balance skills needed for walking.
The Truth:
Myth 3 - Using a baby walker will help my baby’s
Baby walkers interfere with the natural stance of the child and
can teach the hips and knees to take weight in an abnormal
position – this in turn can lead to long term changes to child’s
walking pattern and can sometimes cause long term hip
The Truth:
Evidence showed that babies who used a walker sat, crawled
and walked later than those that didn’t and also scored lower on
the Bayley Assessment which looks at a child’s mental
development and language development as well as Motor
Baby walkers hinder or in severe cases, prevent the child from
crawling and keep the child in an upright position which
interferes with the natural brain development of the child.
Baby walkers teach children to scoot along the floor using their
toes and this strengthens the wrong muscles in the legs. This
can have a big impact on balance and on general muscle and
joint development, including long term foot and ankle